La Chilanga Banda

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From my Facebook page: LA VIDA YAYA·WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

For more than 30 years, Café Tacvba Oficial has played the soundtrack to my life. I discovered them one lazy Sunday while watching Siempre en Domingo with my mom back in 1992 (-ish). I know it was before 1993 because I was still in high school and living at home watching tv with my mom. They were rockin’ live from outside Bellas Artes in Mexico D.F. The lead singer, Ruben, had long dreadlocks that he fanned back and forth while he sang with such energy. My mom’s favorite song is “Maria” by the way. After loving Latin pop for most of my childhood, Cafe reinvigorated my love of music and drove my thirst for eclectic and innovative musicians. The bar was set and it was high.
I moved from Texas to Los Angeles in the fall of 1993 for school and that is were I met a cohort of like-minded Mexican kids that also had a love for Rock en Español, but they were more into Maná and soft rock. Once I played some of that Re album I had new converts and Tacvba fans. My first time seeing them was at a Latin night club in Anaheim, CA called J.C. Fandango. We got in early and I had my Re album autographed by all except one, the one with the attitude. Yeah, I was totally bummed he was unapproachable but Ruben and Quique were real cool and chill. Who knew that red album would be legendary. Last year, they toured and played the entire album from start to finish. I caught that show at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio. This year, they skipped my town so I drove my friend and I up to Austin and barely made it on a Tuesday night. I wasn’t going to miss their 30th Anniversary!
Next week, they play my favorite venue, the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve been putting it out to the universe to manifest this concert for me. I don’t know how I could possibly afford the plane ticket and concert ticket and I will be devastated to miss my favorite band in the whole word performing at my favorite venue in the whole world but such is life!
Their concerts are like going to church. I get this natural high when they strike that first chord that is so unique to them. I was out in the lobby buying their overpriced t-shirt when I heard the chord chime through the dark and heavy double doors. The little old lady selling merch couldn’t move slower! But I was real polite and got my black tee with their beautiful faces on it and the concert line-up on the back, including that coveted Hollywood Bowl date. Sigh. One of my favorite memories was them playing “Olita de Altamar” at Lady Bird Lake at SXSW. It was a free outdoor concert and the wind was blowing, Ruben was dressed like a chicken and I was in heaven. I said it before but that’s the song I want played at my funeral. In fact, just play all their albums cover to cover. That is how I want to go out.
So many favorite songs to list. Last night they did a cover of “Gracias a la Vida” by Mercedes Sosa. Not sure if she wrote it but she is the epic voice of that song, and Ruben sang it beautifully. “Ojala Que Llueva Cafe” is another beautiful cover. So many songs about mother earth and saving her. Ruben also spoke out about women’s rights and equality. He spoke out against the burning of the Amazon and how environmental activists are being murdered. What’s not to love about a band that reaches millions of fans and makes sure to take a political stance against what is hurting us as living beings.
The only thing that rubs me wrong is that some fans are all about the popular tunes. Everyone was hyped up for their romantic ballad “Eres”. All the couples were cuddled up, making out, and feeling each other up, no shame I tell ya. They shout out the only tune they know and revert to old soccer chants, you know which one I’m talking about. Have they not evolved along with the band? If you are a true Tacvba fan you should be worried about the environment and social justice. Ruben did a good 20 minute speech about all the crap we are facing as humanity. Did anyone listen? I wish there was a way to further engage their audience to activate and take a stand, like if you buy a concert ticket, you must plant a tree or help an elder. That would be epic.

We Are Stardust

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From my Facebook page: LA VIDA YAYA·SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2018

Professor Brian Cox appeared on my tv one day and I was mesmerized by his overwhelming depiction of the sky and stars. He talks about the origin of the universe, the particles of which we are all made of, then he looks straight into the camera and affirms: We are all made of stardust.
Recently, I’ve been dealing with some health and spiritual issues, or rather, addressing my issues. I’ve seen several doctors and consulted with spiritual leaders who have guided me in one direction or another. My interest in Native American cultures and passive love of science, particularly the cosmos, has revealed to me something so deep yet so simple: We Are All Stardust. We can debate religion vs science but from our ancient traditions, they are both related and aligned. Our inherited traditions as native peoples and people of color derived from our ancestor’s study of nature. Since the industrial revolution, we disconnected from these beliefs because now we had to prove our theories through western science. Our drive to live in harmony with nature was replaced with a drive to survive, move to emerging cities, live in closer quarters, and make paper and metal money. This may be a simplistic way of explaining this but for my purpose, this is the connection I want to draw. From understanding that we live under a sheet of stars that move and travel, to being disassociated with this experience by living under artificial light and following a physical clock instead of a biological one.
I had several questions for my primary care doctor who I’m still getting to know. He’s really understanding and takes time to explain things to me unlike others who are on the clock with a backlog of patients waiting for 5 minutes of their time. This past week, he explained to me that I’m in my 40s now. Our bodies, at this age, need time to re-set, crash and re-set. I wanted a B12 shot, and he said, that’s just paying for expensive urine. If your body doesn’t need it, it just gets flushed out. It all depends on the nutrition we are taking in to our bodies. I’ve been on a strict diet and lost weight. I am eating healthy and taking vitamins but my energy level is just the pits! He just shrugged and said there’s no magic pill you’re just middle age. He has patients, especially older patients, that insist on B12 shots and he may or may not comply but to him, it’s just a waste of money. However, I think our elders might know a thing or two. I’m not as quick to dismiss them as we tend to do in this society.
On the other hand, my spiritual adviser reaffirms that we are all made of energy. When 7 planets go into retrograde, they are in the process of re-setting, and we do the same. Their shift affects us, our mind and our body. We have an amazing eclipse coming us and it’s powerful force affects us. Several of my friends have been complaining about the negative vibes they’ve been feeling lately. We are now so dependent on electronics. We have wireless machines emitting invisible wavelengths surrounding us in this connected society. Could that be adding to the sluggish cranky mood we’ve been in?
Perhaps it’s time to visit the mountains, oceans, and rivers. Unplug our mobile devices and reconnect with the energy of nature. Connect with the cosmos. Look up into the sky and sit still. Watch the stars and universe shoot across our sky. View the slow fading of the sun and the brilliance of the natural world we live in. Science, medicine, spirituality all agree: We are stardust.

10 Ways to Explore San Antonio Like a REAL Local

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From my Facebook page: LA VIDA YAYA·WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2018

In response to this whitewashed article by NatGeo: https://tinyurl.com/y97pjmru I offer you my own top 10 ways to explore this 65% Latino city like a local or I should say as a Southsider who works on the Westside.
#1 Dining at Don Pedros: This wrought-iron clad window and brick building invites you to have seat at the bar, a booth or table and start with a cool, refreshing margarita. I prefer the chamoy straw margarita with chamoy swirl. If you must eat, I highly recommend the chile relleno. My daughter prefers the carne asada steak, not the taco, but the large slab of steak. Chips and salsa til you die and don’t forget the flan dessert.
#2 Luby’s: If you rather look at a variety of food before deciding what to eat, go to Luby’s. There are several locations throughout the city. Seating is big and comfy to accommodate our wider hips. The Luanne platter is always a great deal. It’s deciding over having two carbs that’s the problem. Sometimes I’ll sneak in the jalapeño in between the greenbeans.
#3 Outdoor Relaxation: Head over to an Ice House. Yes, you can enjoy the great summer heat and feisty flies while sipping on a cold one. Head over to hear some great live Conjunto music at Bosmans, or drive by some historical and hipster murals on your way to Franky Diablos and Luchador. The 210 Sports Cantina had a shoot-out when it first opened or you could always stay in your car and get your drink on at the Beer n All.
#4 Siete Mares for Seafood: Thus far it’s my favorite Mexican seafood spot located across from Our Lady of the Lake University. Dishes don’t skimp on the shellfish and the waitstaff is always friendly. Prices are just right so order that appetizer (free if you check in on Yelp) and get that Corona. It’ll hit the spot.
#5 Historic places: Everyone knows about the Missions, but right next to them is the San Jose cemetery. If your family isn’t buried here, it’s still a serene stroll over soft rolling hills filled with lovely dedications and marble headstones going back to the 1800s. The quietness amidst the concrete angels, crosses, photographs framed in oval spheres and turtle/duck-filled pond is a beautiful way to appreciate life and honor our ancestors. San Fernando Cemeteries I and II have some local celebrities.
#6 BBQ: If it’s not my dad’s BBQ or a backyard party and I have to buy it, then I go to B&B BBQ. The cream corn! The ribs! The cream corn! They are expanding. Once finished you can reserve your party and invite the gang if you got it like that. The bill can add up but it is well worth it. If you’re on a budget, then Bill Miller’s will still make you happy. The potato salad! The pecan pie!
#7 Cruise down Military: They don’t do this anymore unless the Spurs are in the finals but if you’re ever lucky enough to witness the chaos, please do. This strip gets far crazier and more crowded than downtown Market/Commerce Streets. Back in the day, teens with cars would drive up and down the street and park at local businesses to people watch and hate on each other. The cops put an end to those wild Friday nights. If Military Dr. isn’t happening then head further east to Mission Rd past San Jose cemetery to the Ghost Tracks. Put your dusty car in neutral and feel the kids push you over the railroad tracks. Just don’t listen to the naysayers and enjoy the freaky experience.
#8 Murals: Be brave! Venture past Southtown and head to the hood for amazing street art. Some old, some new with the faces of our Latino people, our elders, military veterans, eagles and the venerated Virgen de Guadalupe. But for a guided tour, check out San Anto Cultural Arts and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. There are murals all around the historic Westside community at Guadalupe and Brazos Streets.
#9 Cultural Centers: To experience the true local San Anto flavor check out calendar of events at these venues: Centro Cultural Aztlan, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Anto Cultural Arts, Say Sí, Carver Cultural Center, Centro de Artes, and look out for smaller galleries such as Lady Base, Galeria E.V.A., Presa House and so many more.
#10 Despite the fact that NatGeo can’t count and only listed 9 things to do, here’s my #10: Music Venues! You can’t say San Antonio without thinking about mariachis and you can find those on the Riverwalk or head over to Taqueria Mexico for Sunday brunch. Explore other South Texas vibes at Luna Jazz Club, the Squeezebox, Hi-Tones, Pan American Dance Hall, Cowboy Dance Hall, a few VFWs, Far West, Paper Tiger, the Mix and plenty of other bars and restaurants down St. Mary’s Strip. Last but not least, La Pulga! Local flea markets have live bands plus boots, herbal remedies, make-up, spandex, and car parts. Check your local listings.

Yes, I have chickens and other answers

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From my Facebook page: LA VIDA YAYA·SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2018

When I moved back to San Antonio 5 1/2 years ago I knew I wanted to give my kid a true TexMex experience. So after her first straight As report card I purposely took her to the neighborhood feed store where I knew there would be irresistible baby chicks. We came home with a hen and a rooster. We have since had chicks hatch, given away and taken in roosters. Yes, we get eggs. No, I can’t sell them. I get enough for my breakfast and sometimes for my family and rarely a few close friends.
We currently have three hens and one rooster. I’m hoping for a new batch of babies but none of my hens are interested in being new mothers. Yes, they have their own personalities. One is the spokesperson for the flock. Ms. Pecky is the first to greet me in the morning and run up to see what I’m up to. She will be the first to issue any and all complaints about lots of things such as feeding times, empty water bowls, to tell me about the bug she ate, and general garden gossip.
My first hen is Princess Patricia but I call her the mama. Her brother was Prince Pedro because he had a purple spot on his head. Mama is currently being bullied by the others. Chickens run on a hierarchy system and for some reason she’s at the bottom of the pecking order. I keep her separate for now and she will stay close by me for protection when I’m out in the garden.
Her daughter is Rebel. She’s an aloof teenager who won’t do what you tell her. When I try to round her up, she looks at me with this blank gaze and walks away. One time she wound up in the neighbor’s yard and I couldn’t get her back. I had to call in the expert, my mom. She came over, spread her arms out and caught the crazy kid. My mom tossed her over the fence and my neighbors had no idea they had been harboring a fugitive.
Now my latest rooster (they don’t last as long for reasons I won’t go in to now), I got from my Facebook chicken group. We met at Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels. I just call him my Roory-poo. My cousin named him Ignacio and my daughter pretty much rejected all the names I thew out from RuPac to Rooben and Rooberto. He’s a big sweetheart since he was coddled from birth. I pick him up and carry him around the yard and he starts to doze off resting his head o my arm. He has grown into a gorgeous beast. His comb is picture perfect and blood red. He definitely belongs on a black velvet painting.
Chickens are rather easy to care for. They just need to be protected from predators such as dogs, possums, raccoons, snakes and hawks. The eggs are wonderful to have if you can find them. You can have nesting boxes for them but if they free-roam like mine, they’ll find preferred spots to lay like under the rose bush, in the overgrown grass, in a cardboard box, on top of the utility table and any cool, dark place you can think of. It’s like having an Easter egg hunt all year round. They also love to dig up your plants and spread around the expensive mulch you just spent hours spreading. They do, however, eat pesky bugs, worms, small things that crawl and even larger creatures. They are carnivores and cannibals. Whoever came up with the idea of calling people ‘chickens’ for being fearful got it all wrong. These tiny dinosaurs are savage but we love them.

How Alberto Mijangos Shaped the San Antonio Art World

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From my Facebook page: LA VIDA YAYA·FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018

Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio’s ’s Zona Cultural, Centro de Artes is a two-story exhibit space organized by the City’s Department of Arts and Culture and dedicated to telling the story of the Latino experience. The current exhibition “Alberto Mijangos: 159” is on display through November 11, 2018, and curated by Dr. Teresa Eckmann, Art History Associate Professor at the University of Texas San Antonio.
Mijangos was born in Mexico City in 1925 and died in San Antonio in 2007. He moved to San Antonio in the 1950s after having lived in several cities along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Chicago. In San Antonio, Mijangos built displays at Joske’s Department Store and set up a gallery at La Villita. In 1959, he served as Cultural Attaché and Gallery Director for the Mexican Consulate. Throughout this time, his contemporaries in Mexico were enjoying recognition and lauded exhibitions. In Texas, Chicano artists were selected for shows highlighting the political landscape of the time. Mijangos was neither present to participate in the Mexican shows nor considered part of the Chicano scene here, thus any worthy recognition escaped his grasp until now.
Instead, he committed himself to painting and teaching until his death. Videos of him and his students bring to life the quirky personality of a boundless artist with a deep desire to expand his mentees’ minds beyond the technical. More than an inspirational artist, Mijangos brought the Mexican art world to San Antonio and took San Antonio art to Mexico. It is this pioneering foresight that raised the level of artistic expectations for this cultural city that is heavily influenced by its Mexican roots.
Walking through the vast exhibition, the evolution of Mijangos’ thought-process and influences is clear from painful images of a crucified figure and his own self-portrait of depression to humorous studies of what lies beneath “chonies”. Visitors will quickly notice his work with texture and large-scale canvases. Beyond the usual imagery of mariachis and papel picado, Mijangos showed us that Mexican art and culture is deep and intriguing. He goes beyond the colorful explosions of piñatas to explore pain, pleasure, and whimsey in a cultural context.
Centro de Artes Gallery is located at 101 S. Santa Rosa at the Historic Market Square. Admission is free and open to the public Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Photo by Fred Gonzales

The NALAC Concha

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From my Facebook page LA VIDA YAYA·THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 2018

This piece was written for Dr. Ellen Clark’s upcoming book on pan dulce. Enjoy!
The NALAC Concha
Yadhira Lozano
In the middle of the canícula, the Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) hosts its annual Leadership Institute (NLI) in San Antonio, TX. The conference consists of workshops led by Latino arts leaders from across the country. Eager artists and arts administrators, selected from a group of applicants, convene under the hot Texas sun to learn, network and be inspired to take their work to the next level. My year was 2012. We were the largest class ever with maybe 12-15 fellows. The faculty ranged from leaders of organizations, theatre folks, artists, grant-writers, university professors and writers. One of our favorites was Dr. Tomas Ybarra-Frausto. He taught us the meaning of rasquachismo and other fun cultural theologies but then posed a question that cut right through our very cultural foodie soul. Do you know the names of the pan dulce? Immediately our collective minds raced and came up with a few, conchas, cochinitos, oreja de elefante, and maybe one or two more. Not having visited a panaderia in a long time, memories of my childhood flooded back into my mind. The scent of freshly baked bread and warm sugar teased me in the breeze. My mom surely knows them all and asks for them by name but will I? Meanwhile, we were assigned a gift project. We were to leave a gift to NALAC. It could be anything but something we worked on together as a group in our spare time. So after long mornings, lunches, lectures, and dinner, we met to discuss what we could possible do. We decided to do something with Dr. Frausto’s pan challenge. Several blurted out their special artistic skills and we decided to create a giant concha. Each sugar square would be filled with our individual contribution, a poem, drawing, wish, etc. As we set out to create, build, and get our hands dirty in a conference room generously opened for us by the hotel, we spent long late-night hours working on the project. Once the concha had its shape, we needed to find a spot to spray paint it. We decided to head up to the top of the hotel parking garage, found a spot to place it and let our skilled spray painter from East LA take charge. Soon enough, the cops show up. We had nowhere to run and no time to cover up our concha so we waited. As they approached we noticed they were raza. Ok, there’s hope we won’t wind up needing bail money. As we started to explain our project of remembering the names of the panes, the cops turned from authority figures into family. They were in awe of our project and reminisced about their pan dulce memories. They smiled, wished us luck and left. At commencement, we brought out the giant concha, still smelling of the adventures of the night before, sticky with glue and glitter. We took a ton of pics and gifted the piece to NALAC. The piece was a little too big for their small office so it’s probably somewhere in storage, forgotten, just like some of the names of the pan dulce.
Mural of pecans and mountain lions by Cristina Sosa Noriega. Image courtesy of Rivard Report

Spirit of the Southside

I was just re-appointed to serve on the San Antonio Arts Commission representing district 3 on the southside of town. We don’t get much public art here. We get car lots and mobile phone shops. Now with the Missions’ World Heritage designation, the city is working to beautify the immediate area that leads tourist from downtown to the Mission Reach. There are wonderful murals going up, most, if not all, with natural environments and indigenous symbols. This is work we can all be proud of. We have selected local artists and some that participated in the Public Art mentorship program. The selected artists have met with community members and the American Indians in Texas to gather feedback and history of the location where their work appears. The results have been wonderful. We have community involvement and buy-in. The Department of Arts and Culture has organized and led these community meetings here and across the city.

Black bear and cactus mural

Summer Mural featuring nopal and black bear by Joe de la Cruz. Part of the Four Seasons Murals

My hope is that we can continue this work down Military Drive where there is just sign after sign for all kinds of businesses but nothing cultural or artistic to point to and be proud of. Our Chuck E Cheese was upgraded. Yeah wow. Another strip mall has been added. How many shops does Cricket Wireless need anyway? Used car lots and fast food pepper the strip which I now drive daily to get my daughter to her new school over by Brooks City Base. This area has been upgraded with chain restaurants, major shops, a movie theater and now I see a batting cage. It’s promising but I would like to see more work further west where I live by I35. The mall has been struggling but they are currently tearing up the flooring throughout. Some stores close and others open. I’m still mad that Luby’s is gone. I am not a fan of the food court. Yes, I like Ulta but I much rather have the ice cart pass by my booth repeatedly so I can recharge and continue shopping.

Great things are on the horizon for the southside thanks to Councilwoman Viagran. I am excited about the newly elected city council. Ana Sandoval has proven to be a firecracker and Roberto Treviño along with William Cruz Shaw put their lives on the line to get rid of the confederate monument in Travis Park. I doubt any museum will want that but we shall see where it lands. Councilman Brockhouse has requested more cultural outreach to his district 6 which sounds good to me.

If I had a wish list, and I do, it is to add more variety of cultural and culinary opportunities to the southside. We need a cultural center to put on live music and plays, a place where kids can paint or play with musical instruments. We also need a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Even better, how about an urban farm collaborative. We have so much wisdom in our neighborhood. Our elders come from a time and place where they grew corn and raised chickens in their back yards. They walked out to the garden and plucked a few leaves to make a tea to cure what ails them. We need to re-learn this knowledge. All we need is the space and leadership to do it.

Rivard Report: Newest World Heritage Murals Depict Wildlife, Four Seasons

Texas Public Radio: San Antonio Dedicates ‘Four Seasons’ Murals For World Heritage Area

Featured Image: Mural of pecans and mountain lions by Cristina Sosa Noriega. Image courtesy of Rivard Report

 

Where you from?

This question has been asked of me for a very long time. The tone has varied and my answer depends on that tone. When I moved to Los Angeles to go to college everyone was from somewhere. Even if they were from LA, they were from different parts of the county or Southern California. Every neighborhood has its identity so the question was asked out of curiosity to see where your perspective on life comes from. It was a good conversation starter although  I did get the silly question “Do you ride horses there?” as in instead of a car. I also got questioned on my use of “y’all” until Nelly made it cool. On our visits to Mexico with the family, it wasn’t “where are you from” but rather they knew where you were from. “Ohh, la Tejana.” It bothered me slightly having spent my first two years of life there including holidays and summers for 18 years. My Spanish accent matched theirs. It was my parent’s and grandparent’s home. I felt at home.

When I moved back to San Antonio over 4 years ago, where you are from became a big deal. I was recruited to return by former LA colleagues but when I was introduced in a business setting it was always with the caveat that I was from here. I had the experience of working in LA but I was a local girl. Sometimes, I was introduced by where I was born just to emphasize as much as possible that I was from here. This was usually followed by “what city do you like better?” and you better say San Antonio. My response was always that I love both cities and that’s the truth. In social settings, I had one girl a bit obsessed by my stint in LA. “Oh, I heard you said you were from LA, well everyone is moving here because there is NO water in LA.” blah blah blah. I was just trying to grab a drink with new friends but this one was about to get some LA attitude with her rantings about how “everyone” was leaving California to come HERE, on this very spot, on the dirt she stood on. I mean evvveeerrrryyyyone! Constantly discounting that I was from here and there IS water in LA or else everyone would have died already. This chick . . . I swear.

On another occasion, I was asked by a prominent board member if I caught the Spurs game the night before. I casually said no which was followed by a huge dramatic gasp, “Yadeeeeerrra, what do you mean you don’t watch the Spurs????” Under my breath I muttered that I had better things to do with 4 hours of my life that evening. Identity is a huge deal here that finally I decided to respond that I am a proud southsider and raise chickens in my backyard and my alarm clock is my rooster named Pedro. That usually tops any argument about my loyalty to this city. Don’t call yourself a southsider if you don’t live south of I90. South Town does not count. I wonder if being from anywhere else is a threat to people here or is it that as Texans in general, civic pride is instilled in us at a very young age. I believe having the Spurs franchise reinforces this. I don’t hate the team or the sport. I grew up watching and attended one game (because we were poor and my dad was more into baseball). But I don’t feel I have to pledge allegiance to the players or purchase every team logo knockoff t-shirt and fiesta medal. This lady could have offered me one of her floor season tickets and I would have gladly accepted.

One day, my daughter came home with a note from school that the next day was College t-shirt day. I searched through my closet and couldn’t find any from my old school. They don’t sell them here so I had to run to the pulga to get one printed on the fly. Guess how many kids had on college t-shirts that day? I just saw one, my kid. But every other day there are tons of kids with Spurs gear from head to toe. The whole 6 flags over Texas history is also a point of pride that is taught in school and the Texas pledge is recited right after the Pledge of Allegiance.

At this point this issue with identity is frustrating. It’s a constant subject in so many aspects of life. It’s an unnecessary competition. I’ve always said I am a citizen of the world. I still believe in that philosophy. That doesn’t mean you give up your identity or that you don’t have a culture. I am who I am because the places I have lived have contributed to who I am today. I have 3 places I call home. So what?

Most recently, (this week) my daughter mentioned that she didn’t know Spanish (she does, it’s not perfect) and this random lady copped a nasty attitude on her saying “Oh no girlfriend, this is San Antonio, you live here now and you need to learn.” followed by fake laughter. The hair on the back of my neck rose and I started some labored breathing. The physical reaction told me I had to fire back. I hate confrontation especially when I am not expecting it. So I tap this chick on the shoulder and told her I was offended by what she said. She didn’t know my kid at all. How did she assume she wasn’t from here? Who made her the authority to tell my kid she had to learn Spanish? I saw my kid react to that attitude thrown at her and I could tell it hurt even though she laughed it off. How dare she? A grown woman attack a kid like that? She didn’t even apologize. Just told me how she was a mom too. I don’t need anyone making my kid feel like she does not belong here. I can handle this issue being thrown at me but don’t do it to my kid. She too is a citizen of the world. She carries it all in her DNA, in her curly hair, in her golden brown skin and her Latina attitude and confidence.

I will never apologize for leaving San Antonio for Los Angeles. The hundred reasons I had for leaving are all mine. There’s a saying that goes “ni de aqui, ni de alla” to describe the Mexican-American experience, however, I beg to differ. I am from here. I am from there. I belong. Where I am, that is home. This isn’t a commune and I don’t need a membership to return or anyone’s approval to be here or leave. I am here now, I eat mangonadas and pass on the flour tortillas, but occasionally I’ll have barbacoa, and because it matters so much, I am San Anto. Deal with it.

In Defense of Public Art

My letter in defense of public art went into record and was read out loud by City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran at today’s city council meeting.

March 9, 2017

Dear Mayor Taylor and City Councilmembers,

I am your district 3 representative on the City of San Antonio’s Art Commission and member of the Public Art committee. My lifelong love of the arts began as a child in public school on the city’s southside. My childhood was a celebration of the culture and heritage of our shared identity as a city. I was taught that we have a rich history and deep roots as our celebrations were held on the grounds of the San Jose Mission, at Our Part of Town talent shows, the Arneson River Theater, Fiesta stages and parades and community centers. Our sense of identity is strong.

As I reflect on the past 20+ years of working in the arts in Los Angeles and San Antonio, I find that there is no city like ours. My work for over a decade involved a specific focus on the American West. The region’s history, geography, and opportunities have made it into a land of hope, wonder, and inspiration. We must take a larger view of where we stand in this time and place and realize that San Antonio’s unique character is due to its cultural identity. This is where the cattle drives crossed up to Chicago to take the railroad east and west. This is where battles were fought. Where immigrants arrived to live off the rich land. German, Irish, Spanish, Mexican and Native American traditions and work ethics made us who we are today.

The arts are what keep these traditions and identities alive. We celebrate our independent spirit of the West through our dances, folk music, and poetry. Our celebrations are confined to dates and times so that many of the visitors we have to our great city may not be able to immerse themselves in our annual celebrations, however, the one art form that is available to all who come is public art. It doesn’t have operating hours nor does it turn anyone away. It is our loyal ambassador. It invites people in to observe it, contemplate it, love it or hate it. It evokes emotion and inspires.

What would San Antonio look like without the Westside murals, the Torch of Friendship, a sculpture in a garden? Remove all of the WPA-era tile murals along the Riverwalk and what are we left with to tell the tales? All of these works of art are subjects of discussion and photography. These lasting images are sent across the country and the world, and express who we are as a city with their mere presence.

As a member of the Art Commission, I am dedicated to preserve our cultural heritage and dare to say San Antonio is THE home of the American West. That spirit lives on today and what an amazing message we send to the world through our public art. We are committed to commissioning the best works of art by the best artists. We ensure that selected artists understand the cultural fabric of our city and are training local artists to rise to the call of public art so that we produce the best storytellers via this very public medium. I urge you to support the work of the Department of Arts and Culture because without it, we lose all that we have worked for, we lose our very own identity.

Sincerely,

Yadhira Lozano
Arts advocate & mother

image: Westside mural on Commerce Street just across the bridge from downtown.

Coming Full Circle

I’ve spent the past 20+ years in galleries, corporate offices, backstage, studios, outdoor parks and indoor stadiums living an artful life and now it has come full circle. My love of art, and music specifically, began with my parent’s beige-yellow 4-foot wide console that took it’s place of importance next to our color tv with dial channel changer. The record collection we had might have been small but I loved to open that top and insert my favorite Juan Gabriel album and sing my heart out in the living room. My brother and I eventually learned an instrument or two and wound up playing in the school mariachi. As I got older, I got good grades, received ribbons for whatever singing, poetry and dance competition we had and eventually made it into the high school honor society. I don’t mean to brag but it is relevant to this story because you know those grade-school achievements don’t really matter in your 40s.

Part of being a member of this exclusive high achiever club was a required amount of volunteer hours. My cousin worked in a nursing home and she often paraded me around in whatever adorable costume I had on for that year’s school play so it was an atmosphere I felt somewhat comfortable in. I decided to volunteer at a nursing home near my house but after a series of interesting experiences including an escapee, a few wardrobe malfunctions and the overall sadness of the place I decided to look elsewhere to fulfill my requirement.

I decided to call up the local Mexican cultural center and see what I could do. I was familiar with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center having taken a couple of their singing classes, attended a play or two, and eventually performed on the history theater stage for various recitals. Right around the time I called, they were gearing up for the annual Conjunto Festival. So on a beautiful sunny day, I arrived at Rosedale Park to volunteer for the event. The man in charge was Juan Tejeda. He greeted me and took off on a high-speed tour of the grounds pointing out the booths, stage, and the shiny new accordions set to be raffled that weekend. I can’t tell you what I wound up doing that day but it was my first time working behind the scenes of a cultural event instead of performing at one.

That was 199_? We’ve come a long way baby! It is now 2017. Juan retired last year from the festival as well as his teaching career and has passed the torch to the Guadalupe’s new director, Cristina Ballí. Running this large organization takes up quite a bit of time so Cristina reached out to me to join the festival planning team. I’m back to where it all started! Working logistics and PR this time with the years of experience, knowledge, and passion for music, this particular festival, and the growing arts scene in San Antonio. It’s an exciting time to be in town. The city is growing and creating its artistic identity as we speak. It is combining the historic with the contemporary and finding the right balance of both. Working the 36th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival is an honor and a way to keep the tradition going. As we move forward in life and career, I am glad that I can always come back home and continue the work that was started and kept alive by dedicated folks like Juan and the Guadalupe staff and volunteers.

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Image: Conjunto Dancers by Al Rendon